Southern Minnesota farmers got crops in the ground early this year and off to a healthy start, thanks to remarkably good planting conditions in the area. Then came more fortune, as short and timely rains kept crops growing well.
But farmers in the region saw their first real setback in late June in the form of a few hours of heavy rainfall.
Liz Stahl, Extension educator of crops at the University of Minnesota, said the southwest region of the state, where she's based out of, didn't experience the kind of major rainfall that other parts of southern Minnesota were hit with.
"There's been some significant rain events in the past week in different areas in southern Minnesota," she said.
According to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., heavy rainfall, hail and high winds hit throughout south-central Minnesota on the night of June 28 and into the next morning, resulting in areas receiving between 5 inches and 10 inches of rain.
"The furthest southeast storm produced some large hail and wind gusts to around 60 mph," said a NWS summary of the overnight on June 28.
According to the NWS report, a brief tornado occurred in Winona, Minn., that evening about 9 p.m.
In a summary released the day after the storms, Extension agents reported that low areas of farmland were flooded. Areas that got more than 5 inches of rain would be flooded for some time, said the report.
No matter where farmland is located and how the season has been so far, one day with more than 5 inches of rainfall is enough to throw off field conditions for days or weeks, said Stahl.
"Plants need oxygen, and when they are underwater, that oxygen can get quickly depleted," Stahl said. "That's the first concern."
She said when it's warmer, oxygen is exhausted even more quickly.
The drier soils in the area will help to quickly soak up moisture, but Stahl said other elements such as hail and wind can cause separate issues. Every farm will be different, she said.
"What are your tillage practices, what's your rotation, and the slope of your land," said Stahl. "There are lot of things that can play a role."
According to Stahl, both corn and soybeans can usually survive after being underwater for up to 48 hours. Four days or more causes great stress, she said, and six days or more could bring significant yield losses.
Now in July, farmers with flooded fields could potentially plant some soybeans, Stahl said. But only if there's areas on the land dry enough to do so.
"But it's getting awfully late for that," she said. "And nobody wants to put in the extra cost of having to replant, but you still might have potential if things would dry up enough."
Reports of hail were also unwelcome news for crops, said Stahl.
"It's a point of pollination time when we really don't want to get hail," she said.
But the wet ending to June won't worry or throw off too many southern Minnesota farmers, who're accustomed to dealing with far worse conditions in previous years.
"We've had these kind of situations happen before and still come out with a really good crop," said Stahl.